Review by J.T. Johnson
DIRECTOR: Christopher B. Landon
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Toby Oliver
WRITER: Scott Lobdell
MUSIC: Bear McCreary
This year has proven that Blumhouse Productions is the new king of horror films. Earlier in the year, they released the surprisingly good “Split” and the absolutely thrilling “Get Out”. Thankfully, they continue their hot streak with “Happy Death Day” despite a very familiar plot device.
If you saw the trailers and thought that this film is eerily similar to “Groundhog Day”, then you would be correct with that assessment. If you also thought that it looked like a whodunit thriller such as “Scream”, you would also be right. “Happy Death Day” would be the baby if those two films could somehow mate.
Theresa “Tree” Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) is a sorority chick from hell as she wakes up in the bed of the seemingly nice Carter Davis (Israel Broussard). She returns to her sorority house, ignores or insults just about everyone around her and goes about her day. Then, as she heads to a party that is planned for later that night, a masked killer catches her off guard and takes her out before she can make the festivities.
Suddenly, Tree wakes up in Carter’s bed once again and she begins to realize that she is reliving the same day over and over again. Once she convinces Carter about what is happening, he suggests to her that every day is another day to try and find out who her killer is. From that point on, Tree is not only trying to find her killer but she also tries to make amends for some of the terrible things she’s done over time.
The key to this film’s success relies on two things. Firstly, if this plot definitely borrows from other films, the script had better be sharp enough to make up for its blatant unoriginality. Thankfully, it does this by being somewhat self-aware, containing plenty of humor to go along with the thriller aspect of the film, and by simply providing some solid B movie entertainment.
The second key to the film’s success is the lead actress playing Tree. The entire film follows Rothe’s character and she has to convince us to hate her at first, but then win our sympathies as the film progresses. Rothe is definitely up to this task and delivers a great leading performance. At first, we definitely hate her but soon we learn more about her and then we’re cheering for Tree all the way to the end.
The filmmakers at Blumhouse Productions have taken over for the likes of New Line Cinema in the 1980s and Lionsgate in the 2000s. Sure, Blumhouse understands that they can make a low-budget film and get their money back in no time as a result. In addition to that, though, the studio is also hellbent on providing plenty of entertainment for their audience and “Happy Death Day” is another fine addition to their ever growing library.